The Year of the Book by: Andrea Cheng


Big thanks to Teresa Rolfe Kravtin for providing me with a copy of this lovely book.

The Year of the Book

By: Andrea Cheng

The Year of the Book

I decide to read books for different reasons: a recommendation from a student, a review on Nerdy Book Club, a featured book trailer from Watch.Connect.Read., a beautiful review at Teach Mentor Text, a Twitter conversation (this list could really go on for a long time). The reason I decided to read The Year of the Book was for one reason and one reason only: the cover. Let’s be honest, we all judge some books by the cover (I tend to judge publishers this way as well). Any book that includes the covers of some of my favorite books like Where the Wild Things Are and The Mixed Up Files, is a book that I am going to move to the top of my to-read pile. Teacher-librarian, John Schu, said the cover reminded him on Laurel Snyder’s Penny Dreadful. That sealed the deal for me.

Once I opened The Year of the Book, I quickly fell in love with Anna, and her journey to understand friendship. I loved how she turned to books for guidance, and I was tickled by her relationship with a crossing guard. I cannot wait to hand this book to a fourth grader in the fall.

Many students in the elementary school that I teach in are Japanese. Their fathers come to America to work for 2-5 years, and their children attend the public school Monday – Friday, and then they attend Japanese school on Saturday. I cheered (out loud) when I found that Anna attends Chinese school on the weekends in The Year of the Book. Yay! I’m glad that ALL students will better understand what school is like for students from cultures different than their own.

This book didn’t knock my socks off, and it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. I was able to put it down while I did some chores, and I didn’t cry while I read it. Usually, it takes one of those things for me to give a book 5 stars. Not in this case. I can’t stop thinking about Anna, I can’t wait to share this book with fourth graders, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. The Year of the Book is a Book that has a nice little nook in my heart. A nook where I’m sure Anna would love to curl up with a good book.

I guess in this case, judging a book by its cover, proved to be a smart move.

Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 4


Each week Jen Vincent and I talk books. For the month of June we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.

COLBY: One reason that I love The Lions of Little Rock so much is because I feel that it is a piece of high quality historical fiction that I could easily sell to my 4th grade readers.

Jen, if you were book talking The Lions of Little Rock to a middle grade reader what would you say? What about the book would you be sure to tell them about?

JEN: If I was talking to your students from this school year, (who I know have read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban) I would ask them to remember Mattie Breen and how we read about her being brave when it was really hard for her to be brave. Then I would tell them about Marlee and about how she is like Mattie and has to be really brave, except her story is about more than just her.

If I was talking to students who haven’t read Hound Dog True, then I would start by asking them to think about a time in their lives when they were scared to do something – maybe it’s being scared to ride a bike without training wheels, maybe it’s being scared to raise their hand in class, maybe it’s being scared to sleep in a strange place, or maybe it’s being scared to jump off of the high dive just like Marlee in Lions of Little Rock. Then I would ask them to tell me about how they overcame their fears or what would they need to help them overcome their fears.

And then I would introduce Marlee and explain that Lions of Little Rock is about how making a new friend – someone who was very different from Marlee – helped her get over her feelings of being scared. Her friend gave her strength by believing in her.

How would you booktalk Lions of Little Rock?

COLBY: I would sell them on Marlee. She is such an interesting, important, and amazing character, that I think she could sell the book no problem. You are right, she will reminds readers so much of Linda Urban’s Mattie Breen.

I would love to talk about Liz in my booktalk. I would tell my readers that she has a secret that will knock their socks off and send the book into a frenzy. Fourth graders LOVE secrets, and they want desperately to read about them.

JEN: That’s a good one! I think brains like to figure things out, so when we know there is a secret we are desperate to figure it out and have answers. That would be a great way to hook kiddos!

COLBY: Thanks for talking about The Lions of Little Rock with me this month. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing our July book together.

Newbery Update


This is my first ever post from my iPod Touch. I hope it turns out okay.

Please check out Mr Schu’s latest Newbery video on his blog: Watch.Connect.Read.

I am do excited to see how his Newbery video from ALA turned out.

Since I am a book ahead on my videos, I’m going to just post an update today. I filmed it from a roller coaster and I’m not sure how it turned out (I was very nervous about the ride).


Babymouse For President Contest Reaches the Home Stretch


I have the giveaway copies for the Babymouse for President photo contest. All I need is your picture entries.

Babymouse has visited the White House, Mount Rushmore, water parks, and libraries. It is not too late to enter your pictures in the Babymouse for President Photo Contest, but time is running out. All pictures are due Sunday, July 1, at 8 PM EST.

More information provided below.

Babymouse is running for president. We at Nerdy Book Club, have decided to show our support by launching a massive campaign blitz and giveaway.

We need pictures of you and/or your family and friends reading Babymouse. Going on vacation? Be sure to take a copy of Babymouse with you. Going to the grocery store? Take Babymouse along in the shopping cart. Running in a 5k? I’m sure Babymouse would love to jog with you.

Mr. Colby Sharp will be giving away at least 10 copies of Babymouse For President. You can enter one of two ways:

1. Send your picture(s) to Babymouse’s unofficial email
2. Tweet your pictures using the hashtag #babymouse4prez

All pictures must be submitted by Sunday, July 1, 8  P.M. EST. Winners will be announced the day Babymouse for President hits stores, July 10.

The lovely and talented Jennifer L. Holm has assembled a rock star casts of judges for this contest. Each judge will select one winning picture. The remaining winners will be chosen at random using Each picture counts as an entry.

Interview: Rose Cooper


I am so excited to interview author Rose Cooper today. Before we get to the interview I hope you visit  Mr. Schu’s blog to check out the world premiere of the book trailer to her new book.

Isn’t the trailer phenomenal? Before we get to the interview we have one more step: Rose’s Nerdy Book Club Post. Just click on her picture below to learn all about how much Rose LOVES reading.

Your Blogtastic Novels are written in a journal form. What makes your books different?

It might be in journal form, but it’s not a journal. And it’s definitely not a diary. It’s a pre-blogging notebook. The main character, Sofia, writes down information she “accidentally” overhears so she can later post about it on her anonymous blog. The idea being…if the blog becomes super popular, she can use that to her advantage and write about her and her friends which could make them popular. Each book in the series focuses on one way that information can be passed around (Gossip, Rumors, Secrets) and how that can create problems for everyone.

Why should teachers/librarians run to the bookstore and purchase your books?

The Blogtastic Novels are fast paced and include funny illustrations that break up the text. Kids who might not have the patience to sit through longer books seem to enjoy the mix of pictures and text, as do reluctant readers. Kids can easily relate to the middle grade characters and it touches on subjects in a humorous way, such as bullying, friendships, first crushes, fitting in and family relationships, without being preachy.

What do you want kids to take away from your books?

I would love for kids to see how a simple thing like Gossip can do more harm than good. It can start off silly and fun but quickly turn bad. Especially when you put something on the internet because then it could really affect others. I would also love if kids could see how it’s not about being popular that matters but having a few good friends that you can really count on.

I love that you are a self taught artists. What advice would you have to kids out there that are  doodling away in their notebooks?

Keep doodling! You never know when it will become something more. Every creative person expresses themselves differently and whatever you’re passionate about, keep practicing and never be afraid to push yourself.

What are three books (other than your own) that you think every middle grade reader should be exposed to?

This is tough. There are so many excellent books out there, But if I had to name three, they would be:

  1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  About a boy with a facial deformity and how he attends a public school for the first time. It really pulls at the heartstrings and it does an amazing job showing how bullying can affect a kid and how hard it can be trying to fit in.
  2. Suddenly Supernatural l (series) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel: These books are fun, entertaining, and show a little bit of history in each book. It also touches the importance of the main characters relationship with her mom, who just so happens to a medium.
  3. Holes by Louis Sachar: This is a great book that has been around for a while. The story of a boy and how his bad luck ends him in a juvenile detention center…digging 5 foot holes in dried up soil under the scorching sun. Along with adventure, you get a great sense of friendships and teamwork.

Okay, I must ask. I read something on your blog about how the only time you have ever flown in a plane you jumped out of it. Care to elaborate?

On a whim, I went skydiving. That was the first time I had even been close to a plane and it was tiny. It held only about 8 people.  I jumped out at 14,000 feet and it was amazing!. But I would still love to fly someday, in a larger plane and actually land.

Thank you so much Ms. Cooper for answering my questions!!!!

Thank you so much! I enjoyed all your questions!


I am giving away a set of Rose’s Blogtastic Novel series. The lucky winner will receive a copy of Gossip From the Girls’ Room, Rumors From the Boys’ Room, and an advanced readers copy of Secrets From The Sleeping Bag.

Rules for the Giveaway
* The contest runs from June 24 to June 27 at 11:59 PM EST. 
* You must be at least 13 to participate.